Today I finished a fabulous book by Alice Walker, who is probably best known for her literary work “The Color Purple.” Learned a lot from and about Ms. Walker. There are some books that become companions when you read them and this was one of them. We spent about three intimate days together. She did all the talking. I listened intently. She talked a lot about the spiritual nature of things. Of the connection between humans and animals that once was there but has either been lost or condemned. She writes approvingly about paganism-as if that belief system is how things should be. Taboo. Very Taboo. In Christianity, pagan is a bad word. I almost felt as if I was reading a dirty magazine or evil comics or something when I first began reading the chapter. But really, her explanation of what paganism is all about sounded almost natural to me, sounded almost nice and wholesome. The only thing is I do believe that it is indeed worshiping the creation instead of the creator which is a problem. I believe she even says this herself but seems fine with it. I wish I had some quotes from the book but it was a library book and I gave it back.
I remember another thing from the book though. In a chapter titled ” We become What we are Called”, Ms. Walker writes about using the phrase ‘you guys’. It’s funny because I know a woman who’s against using the phrase as well. When we used to travel with her while doing this peer educating stint, she’d refer to us as ‘young women’. My friends and I were newly young women at the time but I always thought it was so extra and unnecessary to try and cram this extra syllable in a space that was obviously only meant for one. “Hey young women” , “what do you young women want to eat for lunch today?” , “What are you young women up to?”, “How are you doing young women?”
I used to scoff at her over the top activism and her feminist without a cause-ism. But now that I’m older and because Ms. Walker gave an explanation for her dissatisfaction with the term, I feel that maybe this woman had a cause after all. Ms. Walker explains that herself and her colleague, both grown women who had just produced a film, as ‘guys’ was in a sense a failure to acknowledge them for all the being they were as women, as filmmakers and as tellers of sensitive stories. The term ‘guys’ was belittling in the most contemporary and casual of ways. I’m sure people snickered at her as she corrected them as I did at the woman who called us “young women” all those years ago. But now I understand the beauty and respect and power in people seeing each other as who they are, as God made them that is, and acknowledging them with respectful terms like brother, sister, maam, sir, young man, young woman, etc.